If you do not know who Major James Capers is, I highly recommend that you learn about this great American and highly-decorated war hero. Capers was born in Bishopville, South Carolina in the Jim Crowe south. During the Vietnam War, just three generations removed from slavery, he became the first African American to receive a battlefield commission as part of Marine Force Recon. Capers’s team, which called themselves “Team Broadminded” conducted more than 50 classified missions in 1966 alone.

Recently, I had the honor to sit with Major Capers in his home and ask for his thoughts on several topics. Capers had previously been recommended for the Medal of Honor, but it was downgraded to the Silver Star. There is now an active push to get his award upgraded but it remains to be seen whether or not it will ever happen during the Major’s lifetime;  he is nearly 83 years old.

Enjoy the Q&A below, and please purchase a copy of his incredible memoirs which are titled Faith Through the Storm: Memoirs of James Capers, Jr. Major Capers donates all proceeds to charity.

SOFREP: Do you have any advice for a young person that is interested in joining the Marine Corps?

The legend, James Capers.

This is the greatest country in the world. A good bit of this world is dark. I’ve seen a good bit of it, but it’s also the best country on the planet today. We feed more people and help more people. We save more lives. And because of this nation, you know, many people are doing much better because of this nation. We need young women and men like yourself to continue this great promise. This is a nation of great promise and God has shone his light on us. I’ve seen a good bit of the world. And God has chosen us. Yes, I believe in God. And I’ve always believed in God.

There have been some days when it was kind of difficult when you see some of the things that I guess I’ve seen, it crosses your mind, but then again, God has instilled in me that confidence I have that he will see us through. In respect to what I would tell the young people today, back when I was a young man, it was required that I register for the military.

You had to go down to sign up for the draft when you turn[ed] 17 and 18 years old. And if you didn’t sign up, they’d come looking for you called draft dodgers. But to me, it was no issue. I recognized very quickly that this is the greatest country in the world, even back then. And I was honored to serve my country and I joined right out of high school and went to war that same year.

It wasn’t anything like we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan or even Vietnam, but in the Middle East, you know, we had Lebanon and other things going on at the time. And we as Marines, you know, we were mostly operating in the Middle East at that time. World War II had been over for about 10 years at that time, the Korean War was winding down and just about over.